“Reflect”; the story of Disney’s first plus-sized heroine


Bianca, the starring ballet dancer, stares in shock at her own reflection. As she looks into the mirror, it shatters and traps her in a maze of her own insecurities. Photo via Fox News.​​

Audra Gullquist, Editor-in-Chief

Disney’s new short film, “Reflect”, introduced their first plus-sized protagonist. The short starred Bianca, a plus-sized ballerina who is struggling with her self image. While dancing, Bianca is uncomfortable by her own reflection. Disney’s decision to discuss body image has sparked mixed reviews among fans. 


The short was released on Sept 14 on the streaming platform, Disney+. The short film can be found in the second season of Disney’s “Short Circuit Experimental Films”. 


The seven-minute long short film shows a group of young girls in a ballet class. The young dancers all vary in body types. The ballet instructor comments on Bianca’s body and posture by saying “Tight tummy, long neck.” After receiving this comment, Bianca looks at herself in the mirror with a disgusted look on her face. The mirror then begins to shatter into small bits that surround Bianca. This causes her to be unable to escape her own image. She then begins to dance, causing her to become more confident and able to break through the mirrors. 


The short was directed by Hillary Bradfield, who also worked on films such as “Frozen Ⅱ”, “Encanto” and “Avatar: The Way of Water”. Bradfield wanted to emphasize the importance of body positivity in her short. She hopes to help viewers feel more confident and view their bodies in a positive light. She stated that, “When people watch this short, I hope that they can feel more positively about themselves and how they look, and feel okay about the tough parts of the journey.”


Bradfield said that having the main character be a dancer was an obvious choice since ballet dancers must constantly look at their posture in the mirror. By putting Bianca in that environment, she was forced to look at herself and come to terms with her reflection. Bianca escaping all the broken mirrors in the short represented her breaking free of all her insecurities and accepting who she is. Bradfield stated that, “Maybe sometimes you go to the dark place to get to the good place, and that just makes the good place that much more beautiful.”


Many viewers were ecstatic that Disney decided to introduce a plus-sized character. One Twitter user commented that, “16 year old me needed this Disney short before I quit ballet because I didn’t want to be the fat girl in class anymore.” While some fans related to the short, others praised Disney for bringing up the controversial topic of body image. Many fans stated that they were happy this generation of children will be able to see how everyone’s body is different, yet beautiful. 


Although many viewed “Reflect” as an inspiring story, others criticized the message behind the short. Twitter user, @patrickadney11 stated “Here we go again, Hollywood promoting the acceptance of Obesity as something positive for people’s health, in a movie for little children.”


Although some did not find the short to be as encouraging as others, “Reflect” is still one of the first steps Disney has taken to add diversity to their content. In 2020, Disney introduced its Stories matter initiative, which stated that the company would become more inclusive. They stated that they wanted to reframe their public image by creating more diverse characters. No matter how the short is viewed, Bianca will remain a monumental character for Disney. 

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